Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rival group scent induces changes in dwarf mongoose immediate behavior and subsequent movement

By Charlotte Christensen, Julie M Kern, Emily Bennitt and Andrew N. Radford

In many social species, groups of animals defend a shared territory against rival conspecifics. Intruders can be detected from a variety of cues, including fecal deposits, and the strength of response is expected to vary depending on the identity of the rival group. Previous studies examining differences in response to neighbor and stranger groups have focused on the immediate response to the relevant cues. Here, we investigated how simulated intrusions of rival groups affect both immediate responses and postinspection movement patterns. To do so, we used a fecal translocation experiment at latrine sites within the territories of dwarf mongoose Helogale parvula groups. Immediate responses were adjusted to the level of threat, with greater scent-marking behavior, time spent at the latrine, and group-member participation when groups were presented with fecal matter from out-group rivals relative to control (own group and herbivore) feces. Subsequent movement of the group was also affected by threat level, with a decrease in speed and distance covered following simulated intrusions by out-group rivals compared with control conditions. However, there were no significant differences in immediate responses or post-latrine movement patterns when comparing simulated neighbor and stranger intrusions. These results indicate that territorial intrusions can elicit not just an immediate change in behavior but more far-reaching consequences in terms of movement dynamics. They also raise the possibility that neighbor–stranger discrimination predictions are not necessarily as clear-cut
as previously described.

No comments: